You might also like

Monday, September 15, 2014

The kitchen towel drawer


The kitchen was not large in the house where I grew up.  It was remodeled after I left; the refrigerator swapped with the stove, yielding counter and prep room.  But when I grew up no one thought about those kinds of things.  Mom cooked on a stove standing alone in a corner and the first refrigerator I remember was an ice box on the front porch.

We were put to work at an early age.  I remember sitting on the counter, drying dishes my mother put into the drainer at my right elbow and stacking them on the counter at my left.  Mom would put the dry dishes into the cupboard when she finished washing up.

All children in turn, then grandchildren, spent time sitting on the counter for a job.  Another counter job was to put peach halves face down in to a quart jar, my mother’s canning method.  The peaches spiraled around until the jar filled and the next jar started.  The years there were fork tine holes in the canned peaches were the years mom had no child available whose small hand fit into the quart jar and left a peach behind.  
    
The kitchen towel drawer was the last drawer before the back door.  Folding clothes was a job assigned at an early age, and there was only one way to fold towels in my mom’s kitchen.  In thirds.  The towel went on a flat surface, was folded in thirds lengthwise, then in thirds again; a compact little bundle that could be stacked two or three towels high, two towels across, four or five towels deep. 

We did not mess with the system.  Bad towel folding was among the few things that irritated mom. Shoving towels in the back to avoid the routine could have you folding towels long after bedtime, lifted from slumber and sent to the kitchen to correct the oversight.

When I kept my own house towels were not folded in thirds unless my mom was visiting and took it upon herself to redo the entire drawer.  When we all moved in together the subject came up again.  Jan and I both said towels could be folded in any manner that pleased the folder. You know how mom folded the kitchen towels she washed.

And then there were the sheets.  Mother owned more sheets than were in a department store and rotated them.  When we changed our beds, almost weekly as I remember, we had to take clean sheets from the bottom of the sheet stack in the linen closet.  When we folded and put away the laundry the clean sheets went on top of the stack. 

I always took my clean sheets from the top of the stack and mentally defied mom to figure it out.  


31 comments:

  1. SOme great memories there! I love the detail about the fork tine holes in the peaches. Wow.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Love it. And our mothers were cousins separated at birth.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Seems when one has a somewhat constricted by life set of circumstances routine becomes important. My own mother would toss unfolded from the dryer clothes on my bed, saying 'here ya go'. How I put in my drawer was my concern. Today, with no one to supervise, I fear I sometimes let it sit on top of the dryer until I put it on. And nobody knows......

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think your mom had an organized system there with the sheets :)

    betty

    ReplyDelete
  5. Your mother's sheet system reminds me of the weaver lady I mentioned a few days ago, my landlady between university years. We always did the dishes together after supper; she washed, I dried. The first day I was there, she told me her method of dish rotation - put the freshly dried dishes on the bottoms of the stacks, use them from the top. I thought it was excellent. Now why on earth didn't I take that knowledge and apply it to my sheets also? Crikey!

    ReplyDelete
  6. I love the picture of your childhood that your post painted. I can remember my mother commenting that she and her mother-in-law had different ways of folding sheets, and when she helped her she always had to adjust! I am sort obsessive about how things should be folded as well - but drawers seldom stay that way in my house!

    ReplyDelete
  7. You are such a rebel. I never take sheets from the top of the stack.

    Love,
    Janie

    ReplyDelete
  8. I just keep using the same set of sheets...every Monday they're washed, dried and put right back on the bed. The spare set is gathering dust in the linen closet.

    ReplyDelete
  9. LOL, you are a rebel. I think if I did that to my mom, she would figure it out in a heart beat and make me put back the sheets.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Oh your account of your mother's homemaking methods reminded me of my mother. Everything in her housekeeping realm had a process that was to be followed exactly. I bet you still catch yourself using your mother's methods to do a certain chore around the house. I still match and roll socks together my mother's way after they are washed and dried. Nice post -- barbara

    ReplyDelete
  11. I remember the first time I pegged clothes on the line. I was about 8 years old. I hung them the right way up and pegged them on the shoulders. I was sent back out to rehang them upside down. For years I pegged my own clothes upside down. Then I had a moment of realisation.....I can hang my clothes anyway I like. So now I peg them at the shoulders. So there!

    ReplyDelete
  12. I fold my tea towels in quarters lengthways, then in thirds, makes a nice flat stack. My drawer is not wide, but fairly deep so I get four stacks of six towels each. Two of tea towels and two of terry towelling towels for drying hands.
    I always take my clean sheets from the top of the pile too, but freshly washed ones go to the bottom of the pile so they are always rotating.
    I don't remember helping mum in the kitchen or laundry, but I must have. I remember handing her the pegs when she was hanging things on the line, and later holding out my arms so she could lay freshly dried towels etc across them and I had to get inside without dropping any.

    ReplyDelete
  13. At our house it was work pants... they had to be hung up with seams facing one another so they would have a nice crease down the front (and back!) of the leg.
    I enjoyed this peek into your childhood. =)

    ReplyDelete
  14. oh you were rebellious weren't you. ha

    ReplyDelete
  15. Tea towels,towels and sheets are stacked freshly laundered /ironed ones underneath,so take from the top,please.
    They must be folded 'my' way, then we'll all get along nicely!
    Jane x

    ReplyDelete
  16. You were a rule breaker. I was always in trouble for breaking the rules.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I was a rule follower until I got my own place. Then I folded my towels in thirds strictly because they fit better. When I married Phil he folded them into giant squares and it drove me nuts. I had to redo it all. Grr

    ReplyDelete
  18. Funny how household tasks can say so much about a person.

    ReplyDelete
  19. I never lingered in the kitchen with my own mom, but with her mother. I called her Mama and most of my cooking skills were learned from her. She never used recipes, her reading and writing skills were few. She only made it through 3rd grade. She made biscuits with every meal and I would watch in wonder and patiently wait for her to let me roll a ball of dough in my palms and then flatten with the back of my fingers as she did. Thanks for the little stroll down memory lane!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Come on! Everyone knows you fold towels in half lengthwise, then two more folds in equal halves so you only have to unfold them ONCE to hang on the bar correctly! Works for kitchen towels, hand towels, and bath towels!

    ReplyDelete
  21. You gotta have a system. You gotta have a few things you can claim for yourself even if they don't make much sense to anyone else. You teach your kids the system to help them learn discipline. The kids defy the system to exert their independence and set up their own system. That's just how it works.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Your childhood chores made me chuckle. I had mine, too.

    ReplyDelete
  23. What today's children need is more chores!

    Loved this post!

    ReplyDelete
  24. Hari OM
    ...eerrr..... your mother and I would get along fine...&*> YAM xx

    ReplyDelete
  25. I love that rebellious streak! I fold towels like your mom, but my sheet folding leaves a LOT to be desired!

    ReplyDelete
  26. My mom had a Sheet House. Lots of them. I liked the ones on the top also. Smelled more like they just came off the line. Enjoyed this post.

    ReplyDelete
  27. Love the tiny bits of rebellion. I will do it my way.

    ReplyDelete
  28. I hear you. I fold bath towels my way. Maybe I am turning into someones mother? Certainly not my own.

    ReplyDelete
  29. Defiance is an art, one that you managed quite well. Your comment about peaches tickled me. Sometimes grandmas, church ladies, and/or neighbors would do a massive peach canning. My sister and I (and sometimes a church teen) would have the job of peeling the skin. The peach fuzz made me itch all over for days.

    ReplyDelete
  30. Gracious. I am your mother. Bad towel folding irks me, too.

    Ironing was an early chore for me--seems my mom hated it, so I needed to get good at it. Now? Won't iron anything for nuthin'.

    ReplyDelete
  31. no such stringent rules at my house. my mother had a maid and we kids had no childhood chores. nor were we allowed to get summer jobs or after school jobs. our job during the year was school work and education, during the summer, my parents figured we had our whole adult lives to work. and we got an allowance.

    ReplyDelete